You will only make the most out of your radar detector if you know how to use it well – period! You see, there’s more to this gadget than just installing it in your car and hoping that it will help you stay off the ticket.
At the very least, you ought to be in a position to understand the information it’s transmitting and what action to take. In simpler terms, how else do you expect not to get into run-ins with the cops if you can’t interpret what your detector is trying to tell you?
Now, that said, we want to let you in on the dos and don’ts when it comes to using a radar detector, so here we go;
1. Install Your Radar Correctly
This is the number one rule in the book. Let’s face it; even the best radar detector won’t help you avoid getting flagged down by the police if you haven’t mounted it correctly.
And, the idea here is quite simple – just make sure that your device has an unobstructed view of the road. In other words, you should mount it in a way that it can pick out police radar and laser gun’s signal fast. It, therefore, begs the question, which is the best position to mount your radar detector?
…We compare two scenarios.
Mounting in Your Car’s Windshield – For starters, most detector user guides suggest that you install your gadget in the center of your auto’s windshield. While there’s nothing wrong with this, there’s only one problem – you will be limiting the detector’s ability to identify police radar.
The thing is, highway patrol radar will almost always aim at your vehicle’s headlamps or license plate. Besides, mounting in the windshield is akin to showing the cops that you’re using a radar detector, and you may land in trouble.
Installing Your Detector Relatively Low – The best way to connect your device is making sure that you keep it as discreet as possible. Be sure to use a Velcro strap to mount it on your car’s dashboard. You may also use mounting brackets to install in your windshield, as low as possible.
Even then, ensure that you have unobstructed access to functions such as volume and mode controls. Also, familiarize yourself with radar detector mounting laws to avoid being caught off guard.
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2. Understand What the Radar is Telling You
As stated, you’ll only make the most out of your radar detector is you can interpret the information it’s transmitting. It, therefore, makes perfect sense to get well-acquainted with all the signals and alerts. We break it down for you;
Band Alerts you Should Know
• Ka Band – Up to 70% of police radar guns use this band so pay attention when your detector picks it out.
• K Band – Up to 30% of police radar guns use this band so you may want to be on the lookout for it as well.
• X Band – This is a somewhat outdated band so you may ignore it. Nonetheless, cops still use it in states such as New Jersey and Ohio.
• Laser – Highway patrol police are now adopting this technology due to its effectiveness.
Understanding Signal Strength – Decoding distinct bands is one thing but telling the signal strength is entirely different. Your detector will display the signal strength in the form of a graph or row of lights. Naturally, the signal will grow stronger as you approach the cop’s radar.
Note – you’re likely going to get nabbed by the police if your gadget shows a weak signal or gives you a false alert. This will happen when;
• A cop points his/her gun in another direction as you get closer
• The officer is not necessarily on the road when he/she is using the radar gun
• The police are laying a speed trap in an area known for false alerts such as a hilly terrain. There’s every probability that you’ll ignore warnings in such locations more so if you’re a regular traveler. Thus be sure to invest in a radar detector that can identify multiple threats in such areas.
…That said, let’s talk about the Capture Area x 6 Formula for a Sec
Of course, your radar detector will give you false alerts now and then so you must know how to avoid an ambush. On that regard, the Capture Area x 6 formula is your best bet to stay safe. The idea behind this method is to allow you to detect police radar early enough and in effect slow down.
When driving at a moderate speed, you can take some time to look around and determine if the warning by your detector is false or not. Here’s how the formula works;
A police officer can only pick out your vehicle at a distance a ¼ mile (assuming that you’re driving on a flat terrain). Thus, using the capture area x formula, you can tell how far the officer is from your vehicle. Anything beyond ½ a mile is, therefore, a false alert.
Note – your detector can identify band signals from as far as eight miles away.
3. Ensure That You’re Using the Correct Mode Always
Never forget to switch modes on your radar depending on where you’re driving. Apart from reducing the device’s sensitivity, using the right setting will also prevent false alarms.
City Mode – Set your gadget to this mode when driving in populated and urban areas. That way, you won’t get false alerts from signals coming things such as alarm systems or automatic door openers.
Highway Mode – One of the primary benefits of using this mode while driving on the freeway is to keep the detector’s sensitivity at its optimum. In this mode, you have the audio tones at your disposal too. In a nutshell, using the highway mode is your surest way of avoiding speed traps and instant-on radar on the roadway.
Auto Mode – This is a feature offered by brands such as Beltronics and Escort. It works by sensing you driving speed and adjusting the level of sensitivity automatically. One such model with this function is the Escort Passport 9500IX.
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4. Act Fast
Once your detector identifies police radar, be sure to react as quickly as you can. While you may be far from the actual speed trap, it is worth noting that an officer may still record your car for over speeding. And, as a motorist, the last thing that you want is to have a tainted driving history as it will have a ripple effect on the premiums you pay to your insurer.
Apply the brakes (slowly but surely), to stay off the bad records with the highway patrol cops. Remember that even though police radar guns are efficient, they’re not correct all the time.
Slowing down immediately you get a warning, therefore, enables you to take advantage of the margin of error. But, even as you reduce the speed, be wary of the road and weather conditions to avoid accidents.
The Bottom Line
A radar detector is indeed an indispensable device to mount in your car if you want to avoid the pesky police ticket. Nonetheless, you should know how to use it. Otherwise, it will just be “another gadget” that you’ve installed in your car. Also, never fail to keep an eye on your detector every couple of minutes.